Charles Baudelaire

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    Biographical information

  1. Afternoon Song
  2. Beauty
  3. Cats
  4. Cloudy Sky
  5. Devil, In My Lofty Room
  6. Epilogue
  7. Even When She Walks
  8. Evening Harmony
  9. Evening Twilight
  10. Far Away From Here
  11. For Madame Sebatier
  12. Grieving And Wandering
  13. Heautontimoroumenos
  14. Her Hair
  15. Hymn To Beauty
  16. I Adore You As Much As The Vault Of Night
  17. I Am As Lovely As A Dream In Stone
  18. Ill-Starred
  19. Incompatibility
  20. It Is Not Pleasant, Now We Are Tired
  21. Landscape
  22. Man And The Sea
  23. Mist And Rain
  24. Morning Twilight
  25. Music
  26. My Earlier Life
  27. Obsession
  28. Overcast
  29. Parisian Dream
  30. Poison
  31. Reversibility
  32. Semper Eadem - Ever The Same
  33. Song Of Autumn
  34. Sorrows of the Moon
  35. Spiritual Dawn
  36. Strange Deity, Brown As Nights
  37. The Albatross
  38. The Balcony
  39. The Enemy
  40. The Flawed Bell
  41. The Irremediable
  42. The Joyous Dead
  43. The Living Torch
  44. The Mask
  45. The Punishment Of Pride
  46. Those Lit Eyes Go Before Me, In Full View
  47. Thou Who Abruptly As A Knife
  48. To The So Dear, To The So Beautiful
  49. You Sad And Restless




    Biographical information

      Name: Charles Pierre Baudelaire
      Place and date of birth: Paris (France); April 9, 1821
      Place and date of death: Paris (France); August 31, 1867 (aged 46)


    Up

      Afternoon Song

        Though your wicked eyebrows call
        Your nature into question
        (Unangelic's their suggestion,
        Witch whose eyes enthrall)

        I adore you still
        O foolish terrible emotion
        Kneeling in devotion
        As a priest to his idol will.

        Your undone braids conceal
        Desert, forest scents,
        In your exotic countenance
        Lie secrets unrevealed.

        Over your flesh perfume drifts
        Like incense 'round a censor,
        Tantalizing dispenser
        Of evening's ardent gifts.

        No Philtres could compete
        With your potent idleness:
        You've mastered the caress
        That raises dead me to their feet.

        Your hips themselves are romanced
        By your back and by your breasts:
        By your languid dalliance.

        Now and then, your appetite's
        Uncontrolled, unassuaged:
        Mysteriously enraged,
        You kiss me and you bite.

        Dark one, I am torn
        By your savage ways,
        Then, soft as the moon, your gaze
        Sees my tortured heart reborn.

        Beneath your satin shoe,
        Beneath your charming silken foot.
        My greatest joy I put
        My genius and destiny, too.

        You bring my spirit back,
        Bringer of the light.
        Exploding color in the night
        Of my Siberia so black.

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      Beauty

        I'm fair, O mortals, as a dream of stone;
        My breasts whereon, in turn, your wrecks you shatter,
        Were made to wake in poets' hearts alone
        A love as indestructible as matter.

        A sky-throned sphinx, unknown yet, I combine
        The cygnet's whiteness with a heart of snow.
        I loathe all movement that displaces line,
        And neither tears nor laughter do I know.

        Poets before my postures, which I seem
        To learn from masterpieces, love to dream
        And there in austere thought consume their days.

        I have, these docile lovers to subject,
        Mirrors that glorify all they reflect —
        These eyes, great eyes, eternal in their blaze!

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      Cats

        They are alike, prim scholar and perfervid lover:
        When comes the season of decay, they both decide
        Upon sweet, husky cats to be the household pride;
        Cats choose, like them, to sit, and like them, shudder.

        Like partisans of carnal dalliance and science,
        They search for silence and the shadowings of dread;
        Hell well might harness them as horses for the dead,
        If it could bend their native proudness in compliance.

        In reverie they emulate the noble mood
        Of giant sphinxes stretched in depths of solitude
        Who seem to slumber in a never-ending dream;

        Within their fertile loins a sparkling magic lies;
        Finer than any sand are dusts of gold that gleam,
        Vague starpoints, in the mystic iris of their eyes.

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      Cloudy Sky

        One would say that your gaze was veiled with mist;
        Your mysterious eyes (are they blue, gray or green?)
        Alternately tender, dreamy, cruel,
        Reflect the indolence and pallor of the sky.

        You call to mind those days, white, soft, and mild,
        That make enchanted hearts burst into tears,
        When, shaken by a mysterious, wracking pain,
        The nerves, too wide-awake, jeer at the sleeping mind.

        You resemble at times those gorgeous horizons
        That the sun sets ablaze in the seasons of mist...
        How resplendent you are, landscape drenched with rain,
        Aflame with rays that fall from a cloudy sky!

        O dangerous woman, O alluring climates!
        Will I also adore your snow and your hoar-frost,
        And can I draw from your implacable winter
        Pleasures keener than iron or ice?

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      DeviL, In My Lofty Room

        Devil, in my lofty room,
        This morning came to visit me
        And trying hard to catch me out,
        He told me: "I would like to know,

        Amongst all of the lovely things
        That make up her unique allure
        Among the objects black and pink
        That give shape to her charming form,

        Which is the sweetest." Oh my soul!
        You answered straight the Hated One:
        "Since in her everything is ravishing,
        There's nothing there can be preferred.

        As each thing moves me, I know not
        If one seduces more than all the rest
        She dazzles like the blazing Dawn
        Consoles me like the restful Night;

        The harmony is too sublime,
        That governs all her body fair,
        For powerless analysis
        To note each of its sweet accords.

        O mystic metamorphosis
        Of all my senses melted into one!
        Her very breath is made of song,
        Just as her voice becomes perfume!.

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      Epilogue

        With quiet heart, I climbed the hill,
        from which one can see, the city, complete,
        hospitals, brothels, purgatory, hell,
        prison, where every sin flowers, at our feet.
        You know well, Satan, patron of my distress,
        I did not trudge up there to vainly weep,
        but like an old man with an old mistress,
        I longed to intoxicate myself, with the infernal delight
        of the vast procuress, who can always make things fresh.
        Whether you still sleep in the morning light,
        heavy, dark, rheumatic, or whether your hands
        flutter, in your pure, gold-edged veils of night,
        I love you, infamous capital! Courtesans
        and pimps, you often offer pleasures
        the vulgar mob will never understand.

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      Even When She Walks

        Even when she walks she seems to dance!
        Her garments writhe and glisten like long snakes
        obedient to the rhythm of the wands
        by which a fakir wakens them to grace.

        Like both the desert and the desert sky
        insensible to human suffering,
        and like the ocean’s endless labyrinth
        she shows her body with indifference.

        Precious minerals are her polished eyes,
        and in her strange symbolic nature
        angel and sphinx unite,
        where diamonds, gold, and steel dissolve into one light,
        shining forever, useless as a star,
        the sterile woman’s icy majesty.

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      Evening Harmony

        The hour has come at last when, trembling to and fro,
        Each flower is a censer sifting its perfume;
        The scent and sounds all swirl in evening’s gentle fume;
        A melancholy waltz, a languid vertigo!

        Each flower is a censer sifting its perfume;
        A violin’s vibrato wounds the heart of woe;
        A melancholy waltz, a languid vertigo!
        The sky, a lofty altar, lovely in the gloom,

        A violin’s vibrato wounds the heart of woe,
        A tender heart detests the black of nullity,
        The sky, a lofty altar, lovely in the gloom;
        The sun is drowning in the evening’s blood-red glow.

        A tender heart detests the black of nullity,
        And lovingly preserves each trace of long ago!
        The sun is drowning in the evening’s blood-red glow …
        Your memory shines through me like an ostensory!

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      Evening Twilight

        Here’s the criminal’s friend, delightful evening:
        come like an accomplice, with a wolf’s loping:
        slowly the sky’s vast vault hides each feature,
        and restless man becomes a savage creature.
        Evening, sweet evening, desired by him who can say
        without his arms proving him a liar: ‘Today
        we’ve worked!’ – It refreshes, this evening hour,
        those spirits that savage miseries devour,
        the dedicated scholar with heavy head,
        the bowed workman stumbling home to bed.
        Yet now unhealthy demons rise again
        clumsily, in the air, like busy men,
        beat against sheds and arches in their flight.
        And among the wind-tormented gas-lights
        Prostitution switches on through the streets
        opening her passageways like an ant-heap:
        weaving her secret tunnels everywhere,
        like an enemy planning a coup, she’s there
        burrowing into the wombs of the city’s mires,
        like a worm stealing from Man what it desires.
        Here, there, you catch the kitchens’ whistles,
        the orchestras’ droning, the theatres’ yells,
        low dives where gambling’s all the pleasure,
        filling with whores, and crooks, their partners,
        and the thieves who show no respite or mercy,
        will soon be setting to work, as they tenderly,
        they too, toil at forcing safes and doorways,
        to live, clothe their girls, for a few more days.
        Collect yourself, my soul, at this grave hour,
        and close your ears to the rising howl.
        It’s now that the pains of the sick increase!
        Dark Night clasps them by the throat: they reach
        their journey’s end, the common pit’s abandon:
        the hospital fills with their sighs. – Many a one,
        will never return to their warm soup by the fire,
        by the hearth, at evening, next to their heart’s desire.
        And besides the majority have never known
        never having lived, the gentleness of home!

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      Far Away From Here

        This is the sanctuary
        where the prettified young lady,
        calm, and always ready,
        fans her breasts, aglow,
        elbow on the pillow,
        hears the fountain’s flow:
        it’s the room of Dorothea.
        - The breeze and water distantly
        sing their song, mingled here
        with sobs to soothe the spoiled child’s fear.
        From tip to toe, most thoroughly,
        her delicate surfaces appear,
        oiled with sweet perfumery.
        - the flowers nearby swoon gracefully.

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      For Madame Sebatier

        What will you say tonight, poor soul in solitude,
        what will you say my heart, withered till now,
        to the so beautiful, so sweet, so dear one,
        whose divine gaze recreated the flower?.

        We will set Pride now to singing her praises:
        Nothing outdoes her sweet air of authority.
        Her spiritual flesh has the perfume of angels,
        and her eye surrounds us in robes of infinity.

        Whether in the night, and alone, and in solitude,
        Whether in the street, and among the multitude,
        her phantom dances in air, like a flame.

        Sometimes it speaks and it says ‘I am beautiful.
        You, for the love of me, must love beauty alone:
        for I am your Madonna, Muse, Guardian Angel.

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      Grieving And Wandering

        Tell me, does your heart sometimes fly away, Agatha,
        Far from the black ocean of the filthy city,
        Toward another ocean where splendor glitters,
        Blue, clear, profound, as is virginity?
        Tell me, does your heart sometimes fly away, Agatha?

        The sea, the boundless sea, consoles us for our toil!
        What demon endowed the sea, that raucous singer,
        Whose accompanist is the roaring wind,
        With the sublime function of cradle-rocker?
        The sea, the boundless sea, consoles us for our toil!

        Take me away, carriage! Carry me off, frigate!
        Far, far away! Here the mud is made with our tears!
        — Is it true that sometimes the sad heart of Agatha
        Says: Far from crimes, from remorse, from sorrow,
        Take me away, carriage, carry me off, frigate?

        How far away you are, O perfumed Paradise,
        Where under clear blue sky there's only love and joy,
        Where all that one loves is worthy of love,
        Where the heart is drowned in sheer enjoyment!
        How far away you are, O perfumed Paradise!

        But the green Paradise of childhood loves
        The outings, the singing, the kisses, the bouquets,
        The violins vibrating behind the hills,
        And the evenings in the woods, with jugs of wine
        — But the green Paradise of childhood loves,

        That sinless Paradise, full of furtive pleasures,
        Is it farther off now than India and China?
        Can one call it back with plaintive cries,
        And animate it still with a silvery voice,
        That sinless Paradise full of furtive pleasures?

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      Heautontimoroumenos

        I'll strike you, but without the least
        Anger — as butchers poll an ox,
        Or Moses, when he struck the rocks —
        That from your eyelid thus released,

        The lymph of suffering may brim
        To slake my desert of its drought.
        So my desire, by hope made stout,
        Upon your salty tears may swim,

        Like a proud ship, far out from shore.
        Within my heart, which they'll confound
        With drunken joy, your sobs will sound
        Like drums that beat a charge in war.

        I am I not a faulty chord
        In all this symphony divine,
        Thanks to the irony malign
        That shakes and cuts me like a sword?

        It's in my voice, the raucous jade!
        It's in my blood's black venom too!
        I am the looking-glass, wherethrough
        Megera sees herself portrayed!

        I am the wound, and yet the blade!
        The smack, and yet the cheek that takes it!
        The limb, and yet the wheel that breaks it,
        The torturer, and he who's flayed!

        One of the sort whom all revile,
        A Vampire, my own blood I quaff,
        Condemned to an eternal laugh
        Because I know not how to smile.

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      Her Hair

        O fleece that down her nape rolls, plume on plume!
        O curls! O scent of nonchalance and ease!
        What ecstasy! To populate this room
        With memories it harbours in its gloom,
        I'd shake it like a banner on the breeze.

        Hot Africa and languid Asia play
        (An absent world, defunct, and far away)
        Within that scented forest, dark and dim.
        As other souls on waves of music swim,
        Mine on its perfume sails, as on the spray.

        I'll journey there, where man and sap-filled tree
        Swoon in hot light for hours. Be you my sea,
        Strong tresses! Be the breakers and gales
        That waft me. Your black river holds, for me,
        A dream of masts and rowers, flames and sails.

        A port, resounding there, my soul delivers
        With long deep draughts of perfumes, scent, and clamour,
        Where ships, that glide through gold and purple rivers,
        Fling wide their vast arms to embrace the glamour
        Of skies wherein the heat forever quivers.

        I'll plunge my head in it, half drunk with pleasure —
        In this black ocean that engulfs her form.
        My soul, caressed with wavelets there may measure
        Infinite rocking& in embalmed leisure,
        Creative idleness that fears no storm!

        Blue tresses, like a shadow-stretching tent,
        You shed the blue of heavens round and far.
        Along its downy fringes as I went
        I reeled half-drunken to confuse the scent
        Of oil of coconuts, with musk and tar.

        My hand forever in your mane so dense,
        Rubies and pearls and sapphires there will sow,
        That you to my desire be never slow —
        Oasis of my dreams, and gourd from whence
        Deep-draughted wines of memory will flow.

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      Hymn To Beauty

        Do you come from Heaven or rise from the abyss,
        Beauty? Your gaze, divine and infernal,
        Pours out confusedly benevolence and crime,
        And one may for that, compare you to wine.

        You contain in your eyes the sunset and the dawn;
        You scatter perfumes like a stormy night;
        Your kisses are a philtre, your mouth an amphora,
        Which make the hero weak and the child courageous.

        Do you come from the stars or rise from the black pit?
        Destiny, bewitched, follows your skirts like a dog;
        You sow at random joy and disaster,
        And you govern all things but answer for nothing.

        You walk upon corpses which you mock, O Beauty!
        Of your jewels Horror is not the least charming,
        And Murder, among your dearest trinkets,
        Dances amorously upon your proud belly.

        The dazzled moth flies toward you, O candle!
        Crepitates, flames and says: 'Blessed be this flambeau!'
        The panting lover bending o'er his fair one
        Looks like a dying man caressing his own tomb,

        Whether you come from heaven or from hell, who cares,
        O Beauty! Huge, fearful, ingenuous monster!
        If your regard, your smile, your foot, open for me
        An Infinite I love but have not ever known?

        From God or Satan, who cares? Angel or Siren,
        Who cares, if you make, — fay with the velvet eyes,
        Rhythm, perfume, glimmer; my one and only queen!
        The world less hideous, the minutes less leaden?

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      I Adore You As Much As The Vault Of Night

        I adore you as much as the vault of night,
        O vase of sadness, O taciturn light,
        And I love you even more, dear, when you turn away
        And when you, ornamented with my night, display
        More ironically the depths of the sea
        That separate my arms from blue immensities.

        I advance to attack, I climb to assault
        Like a choir of worms on a corpse's salt
        And I cherish you, O beast implacable and cruel!
        At your coldest you are most beautiful.

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      I Am As Lovely As A Dream In Stone

        I am as lovely as a dream in stone;
        My breast on which each finds his death in turn
        Inspires the poet with a love as lone
        As everlasting clay, and as taciturn.

        Swanwhite of heart, as sphinx no mortal knows,
        My throne is in the heaven's azure deep;
        I hate all movement that disturbs my pose;
        I smile not ever, neither do I weep.

        Before my monumental attitudes,
        Taken from the proudest plastic arts,
        My poets pray in austere studious moods,

        For I, to fold enchantment round their hearts,
        Have pools of light where beauty flames and dies,
        The placid mirrors of my luminous eyes.

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      Ill-Starred

        To bear a weight that cannot be borne,
        Sisyphus, even you aren't that strong,
        Although your heart cannot be torn
        Time is short and Art is long.
        Far from celebrated sepulchers
        Toward a solitary graveyard
        My heart, like a drum muffled hard
        Beats a funeral march for the ill-starred.

        —Many jewels are buried or shrouded
        In darkness and oblivion's clouds,
        Far from any pick or drill bit,

        Many a flower unburdens with regret
        Its perfume sweet like a secret;
        In profoundly empty solitude to sit.

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      Incompatibility

        Higher there, higher, far from the ways,
        from the farms and the valleys, beyond the trees,
        beyond the hills and the grasses’ haze,
        far from the herd-trampled tapestries,
        you discover a sombre pool in the deep
        that a few bare snow-covered mountains form.
        The lake, in light’s, and night’s, sublime sleep,
        is never disturbed in its silent storm.
        In that mournful waste, to the unsure ear,
        come faint drawn-out sounds, more dead than the bell,
        of some far-off cow, the echoes unclear,
        as it grazes the slope, of a distant dell.
        On those hills where the wind effaces all signs,
        on those glaciers, fired by the sun’s pure light,
        on those rocks, where dizziness threatens the mind,
        in that lake’s vermilion presage of night,
        under my feet, and above my head,
        silence, that makes you wish to escape;
        that eternal silence, of the mountainous bed
        of motionless air, where everything waits.
        You would say that the sky, in its loneliness,
        gazed at itself in the glass, and, up there,
        the mountains listened, in grave watchfulness
        to the mystery nothing that’s human can hear.
        And when, by chance, a wandering cloud
        darkens the silent lake, moving by,
        you might think that you saw some spirit’s robe,
        or else its clear shadow, travelling, over the sky.

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      It Is Not Pleasant, Now We Are Tired

        Is it not pleasant, now we are tired,
        And tarnished, like other men, to search for those fires
        In the furthest East, where, again, we might see
        Morning’s new dawn, and, in mad history,
        Hear the echoes, that vanish behind us, the sighs
        Of the young loves, God gives, at the start of our lives?

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      Landscape

        In order to write my chaste verses I’ll lie
        like an astrologer near to the sky
        and, by the bell-towers, listen in dream
        to their solemn hymns on the air-stream.
        Hands on chin, from my attic’s height
        I’ll see the workshops of song and light,
        the gutters, the belfries those masts of the city,
        the vast skies that yield dreams of eternity
        It is sweet to see stars being born in the blue,
        through the mists, the lamps at the windows, too,
        the rivers of smoke climbing the firmament,
        and the moon pouring out her pale enchantment.
        I’ll see the springs, summers, autumns’ glow,
        and when winter brings the monotonous snow
        I’ll close all my doors and shutters tight
        and build palaces of faery in the night.
        Then I’ll dream of blue-wet horizons,
        weeping fountains of alabaster, gardens,
        kisses, birdsong at morning or twilight,
        all in the Idyll that is most childlike.
        The mob that are beating in vain on the glass,
        won’t make me raise my head as they pass.
        Since I’ll be plunged deep in the thrill
        of evoking the springtime through my own will,
        raising the sun out of my own heart,
        making sweet air from my burning thought.

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      Man And The Sea

        Free man, you'll always love the sea — for this,
        That it's a mirror, where you see your soul
        In its eternal waves that chafe and roll;
        Nor is your soul less bitter an abyss.

        in your reflected image there to merge,
        You love to dive, its eyes and limbs to match.
        Sometimes your heart forgets its own, to catch
        The rhythm of that wild and tameless dirge.

        The two of you are shadowy, deep, and wide.
        Man! None has ever plummeted your floor —
        Sea! None has ever known what wealth you store —
        Both are so jealous of the things you hide!

        Yet age on age is ended, or begins,
        While you without remorse or pity fight.
        So much in death and carnage you delight,
        Eternal wrestlers! Unrelenting twins!

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      Mist And Rain

        Late autumns, winters, spring-times steeped in mud,
        anaesthetizing seasons! You I praise, and love
        for so enveloping my heart and brain
        in vaporous shrouds, in sepulchres of rain.
        In this vast landscape where chill south winds play,
        where long nights hoarsen the shrill weather-vane,
        it opens wide its raven’s wings, my soul,
        freer than in times of mild renewal.
        Nothing’s sweeter to my heart, full of sorrows,
        on which the hoar-frost fell in some past time,
        O pallid seasons, queens of our clime,
        than the changeless look of your pale shadows,
        - except, two by two, to lay our grief to rest
        in some moonless night, on a perilous bed.

      Up

      Morning Twilight

        Reveille was sounding on barrack-squares,
        and the wind of dawn blew on lighted stairs.
        It was the hour when a swarm of evil visions
        torments swarthy adolescents, when pillows hum:
        when, a bloodshot eye, throbbing and quivering,
        the lamp makes a reddened stain on the morning:
        when the soul, by dull sour body, bowed down,
        enacts the struggle between lamp and dawn.
        Like a tearful face that the breeze wipes dry,
        the air’s filled with the frisson of things that fly,
        and man is tired of writing, woman with loving.
        The chimneys, here and there, began smoking.
        The women of pleasure, with their bleary eyes,
        and gaping mouths, were sleeping stupefied:
        poor old women, with chilled and meagre breasts,
        blew the embers, then fingers, roused from rest.
        It was the hour, when frozen, with money scarcer,
        the pains of women in childbirth grew fiercer:
        and like a sob cut short by a surge of blood
        a cock-crow far away broke through the fog:
        a sea of mist bathed the buildings, dying men,
        in the depths of the workhouse, groaned again
        emitting their death-rattles in ragged breaths.
        Debauchees, tired by their efforts, headed for rest.
        Shivering dawn in a robe of pink and green
        made her way slowly along the deserted Seine,
        and sombre Paris, eyes rubbed and watering,
        groped for its tools, an old man, labouring.

      Up

      Music

        Music, like an ocean, often carries me away!
        Through the ether far,
        or under a canopy of mist, I set sail
        for my pale star.
        Breasting the waves, my lungs swollen
        like a ship’s canvas,
        night veils from me the long rollers,
        I ride their backs:
        I sense all a suffering vessel’s passions
        vibrating within me:
        while fair winds or the storm’s convulsions
        on the immense deep
        cradle me. Or else flat calm, vast mirror there
        of my despair!

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      My Earlier Life

        I've been home a long time among the vast porticos,
        Which the mariner sun has tinged with a million fires,
        Whose grandest pillars, upright, majestic and cold
        Render them the same, this evening, as caves with basalt spires.

        The swells' overwhelming accords of rich music,
        Heaving images of heaven to the skies,
        Mingle in a way solemn and mystic
        With the colors of the horizon reflected by my eyes.

        It was here I was true to the voluptuous calm,
        The milieu of azure, the waves, the splendors,
        And the nude slaves, all impregnated with odors,

        Who refreshed my brow with waving palms
        My only care to bring to meaning from anguish
        The sad secret in which I languish.

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      Obsession

        You forests, like cathedrals, are my dread:
        You roar like organs. Our curst hearts, like cells
        Where death forever rattles on the bed,
        Echo your de Profundis as it swells.

        My spirit hates you, Ocean! sees, and loathes
        Its tumults in your own. Of men defeated
        The bitter laugh, that's full of sobs and oaths,
        Is in your own tremendously repeated.

        How you would please me, Night! without your stars
        Which speak a foreign dialect, that jars
        On one who seeks the void, the black, the bare.

        Yet even your darkest shade a canvas forms
        Whereon my eye must multiply in swarms
        Familiar looks of shapes no longer there.

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      Overcast

        Are they blue, gray or green? Mysterious eyes
        (as if in fact you were looking through a mist)
        in alternation tender, dreamy, grim
        to match the shiftless pallor of the sky.

        That's what you're like- these warm white afternoons
        which make the ravished heart dissolve in tears,
        the nerves, inexplicably overwrought,
        outrage the dozing mind.

        Not always, though-sometimes
        you're like the horizon when the sun
        ignites our cloudy autumn-how you glow!
        A sodden countryside in sudden rout,
        turned incandescent by a changing wind.

        Dangerous woman-demoralizing days!
        Will I adore your killing frost as much,
        and in that implacable winter, when it comes,
        discover pleasures sharper than iron and ice?

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      Parisian Dream

        Á Constantine Guys.
        I
        The vague and distant image
        of this landscape, so terrifying,
        on which no mortal’s gazed
        thrilled me again this morning.
        Sleep is full of miracles!
        By a singular caprice
        from that unfolding spectacle
        I’d banned all shapeless leaf,
        a painter proud of my artistry
        I savoured in my picture
        the enchanting monotony
        of metal, marble, water.
        Babel of stairs and arcades,
        it was an infinite palace
        full of pools and cascades,
        falling gold, burnt, or lustreless:
        and heavy cataracts there
        like curtains of crystal,
        dazzling, hung in air
        from walls of metal.
        Not trees, but colonnades
        circled the sleeping pools
        where colossal naiads gazed
        at themselves, as women do.
        Between banks of rose and green,
        the blue water stretched,
        for millions of leagues
        to the universe’s edge:
        there were un-heard of stones,
        and magic waves: there were,
        dazzled by everything shown,
        enormous quivering mirrors!
        Impassive and taciturn,
        Ganges, in the firmament,
        poured treasures from the urn
        into abysses of diamond.
        Architect of this spell,
        I made a tame ocean swell
        entirely at my will,
        through a jewelled tunnel:
        and all, seemed glossy, clear
        iridescent: even the shades
        of black, liquid glory there
        in light’s crystallised rays.
        Not a single star, no trace
        of a sun even, low in the sky,
        to illuminate this wondrous place
        that shone with intrinsic fire!
        And over these shifting wonders
        hovered (oh dreadful novelty!
        All for the eye, none for the ear!)
        the silence of eternity.
        II
        Opening eyes filled with flame
        I saw the horrors of my hovel,
        and felt the barbs of shameful
        care, re-entering my soul:
        brutally with gloomy blows
        the clock struck mid-day,
        and the sky poured shadows
        on a world, benumbed and grey.

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      Poison

        Wine knows how to adorn the most sordid hovel
        With marvelous luxury
        And make more than one fabulous portal appear
        In the gold of its red mist
        Like a sun setting in a cloudy sky.

        Opium magnifies that which is limitless,
        Lengthens the unlimited,
        Makes time deeper, hollows out voluptuousness,
        And with dark, gloomy pleasures
        Fills the soul beyond its capacity.

        All that is not equal to the poison which flows
        From your eyes, from your green eyes,
        Lakes where my soul trembles and sees its evil side...
        My dreams come in multitude
        To slake their thirst in those bitter gulfs.

        All that is not equal to the awful wonder
        Of your biting saliva,
        Charged with madness, that plunges my remorseless soul
        Into oblivion
        And rolls it in a swoon to the shores of death.

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      Reversibility

        Angel full of gaiety, do you know anguish,
        Shame, remorse, sobs, vexations,
        And the vague terrors of those frightful nights
        That compress the heart like a paper one crumples?
        Angel full of gaiety, do you know anguish?

        Angel full of kindness, do you know hatred,
        The clenched fists in the darkness and the tears of gall,
        When Vengeance beats out his hellish call to arms,
        And makes himself the captain of our faculties?
        Angel full of kindness, do you know hatred?

        Angel full of health, do you know Fever,
        Walking like an exile, moving with dragging steps,
        Along the high, wan walls of the charity ward,
        And with muttering lips seeking the rare sunlight?
        Angel full of health, do you know Fever?

        Angel full of beauty, do you know wrinkles,
        The fear of growing old, and the hideous torment
        Of reading in the eyes of her he once adored
        Horror at seeing love turning to devotion?
        Angel full of beauty, do you know wrinkles?

        Angel full of happiness, of joy and of light,
        David on his death-bed would have appealed for health
        To the emanations of your enchanted flesh;
        But of you, angel, I beg only prayers,
        Angel full of happiness, of joy and of light!

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      Semper Eadem - Ever The Same

        'Whence,' ask you, 'does this strange new sadness flow
        Like rising tides on rocks, black, bare, and vast?'
        For human hearts, when vintage-time is past,
        To live is bad. That secret all men know —

        An obvious sorrow, with no mystery, shown,
        Clear as your joy, to everyone around.
        O curious one, seek nothing more profound,
        And speak not, though your voice be sweet in tone.

        Hush, ignorant! Hush, soul that's still enraptured,
        And mouth of childish laughter! Neatly captured,
        Death pulls us, more than life, with subtle wile.

        Oh let my thought get drunk upon a lie,
        And plunge, as in a dream, in either eye,
        And in their lashes' shadow sleep awhile!

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      Song Of Autumn

        I

        Soon into frozen shades, like leaves, we'll tumble.
        Adieu, short summer's blaze, that shone to mock.
        I hear already the funereal rumble
        Of logs, as on the paving-stones they shock.

        Winter will enter in my soul to dwell —
        Rage, hate, fear, horror, labour forced and dire!
        My heart will seem, to sun that polar hell,
        A dim, red, frozen block, devoid of fire.

        Shuddering I hear the heavy thud of fuel.
        The building of a gallows sounds as good!
        My spirit, like a tower, reels to the cruel
        Battering-ram in every crash of wood.

        The ceaseless echoes rock me and appal.
        They're nailing up a coffin, I'll be bound,
        For whom? — Last night was Summer. Here's the Fall.
        There booms a farewell volley in the sound.


        II

        I like die greenish light in your long eyes,
        Dear: but today all things are sour to me.
        And naught, your hearth, your boudoir, nor your sighs
        Are worth the sun that glitters on the sea.

        Yet love me, tender heart, as mothers cherish
        A thankless wretch, Lover or sister, be
        Ephemeral sweetness of the suns that perish
        Or glory of the autumn swift to flee.

        Brief task! The charnel yawns in hunger horrid,
        Yet let me with my head upon your knees,
        Although I mourn the summer, white and torrid
        Taste these last yellow rays before they freeze.

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      Sorrows Of The Moon

        Tonight the moon dreams in a deeper languidness,
        And, like a beauty on her cushions, lies at rest;
        While drifting off to sleep, a tentative caress
        Seeks, with a gentle hand, the contour of her breast;

        As on a crest above her silken avalanche,
        Dying, she yields herself to an unending swoon,
        And sees a pallid vision everywhere she’d glance,
        In the azure sky where blossoms have been strewn.

        When sometime, in her weariness, upon her sphere
        She might permit herself to sheda furtive tear,
        A poet of great piety, a foe of sleep,

        Catches in the hollow of his hand that tear,
        An opal fragment, iridescent as a star;
        Within his heart, far from the sun, it’s buried deep.

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      Spiritual Dawn

        When in the company of the Ideal
        (That gnawing tooth) Dawn enters, white and pink,
        The rooms of rakes — each sated beast can feel
        An Angel waking through the fumes of drink.

        For downcast Man, who dreams and suffers still,
        The azure of the mystic heaven above,
        With gulf-like vertigo, attracts his will.
        So, Goddess, lucid Being of pure love,

        Over the smoking wreck of feasts and scandals,
        Your phantom, rosy and enchanting, flies
        And still returns to my dilated eyes.

        The sun has blackened out the flame of candles.
        So your victorious phantom seems as one,
        O blazing spirit, with the deathless Sun!

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      Strange Deity, Brown As The Nights

        Strange deity, brown as the nights
        Of musk your perfume, mingled with Havana
        Witchdoctor's work, the Faust of the savanna
        Ebonflanked sorceress, child of black midnights.

        To fidelity, opium, the night, I prefer
        The liquor of your mouth where love dances a pavane
        When my desires set out for you in caravan
        Your eyes the well at which my troubles drink.

        From those two great black eyes, the windows of your soul
        Oh merciless demon, pour on me fewer flames
        I'm not the Styx to kiss you nine times.

        Alas, and I cannot, libertine Megaera
        To break your courage and bring you to bay
        In the hell of your bed, become Persephone.

      Up

      The Albatross

        Often, for their amusement, bored sailors
        take albatrosses, vast seabirds, that sleep
        in the air, indolent fellow travellers,
        following the ship skimming the deep.

        No sooner are they set down on the boards,
        than those kings of the azure, maladroit, shamefully
        let their vast white wings, like oars,
        trail along their sides, piteously.

        Winged traveller, gauche, gross, useless, laughable,
        now, one of them, with a pipe stem, prods you,
        who, a moment ago, were beautiful:
        Another, limping, mimics the cripple who flew.

        The Poet bears a likeness to that prince of the air,
        who mocks at slingshots, and haunts the winds:
        On earth, an exile among the scornful, where
        he is hampered, in walking, by his giant wings.

      Up

      The Balcony

        Mother of memories, queen of paramours,
        Yourself are all my pleasure, all my duty;
        You will recall caresses that were yours
        And fireside evenings in their warmth and beauty.
        Mother of memories, queen of paramours.

        On eves illumined by the light of coal,
        The balcony beneath a rose-veiled sky,
        Your breast how soft! Your heart how good and whole!
        We spoke eternal things that cannot die —
        On eves illumined by the light of coal!

        How splendid sets the sun of a warm evening!
        How deep is space! the heart how full of power!
        When, queen of the adored, towards you leaning,
        I breathed the perfume of your blood in flower.
        How splendid sets the sun of a warm evening!

        The evening like an alcove seemed to thicken,
        And as my eyes astrologised your own,
        Drinking your breath, I felt sweet poisons quicken,
        And in my hands your feet slept still as stone.
        The evening like an alcove seemed to thicken.

        I know how to resuscitate dead minutes.
        I see my past, its face hid in your knees.
        How can I seek your languorous charm save in its
        Own source, your heart and body formed to please.
        I know how to resuscitate dead minutes.

        These vows, these perfumes, and these countless kisses,
        Reborn from gulfs that we could never sound,
        Will they, like suns, once bathed in those abysses,
        Rejuvenated from the deep, rebound —
        These vows, these perfumes, and these countless kisses?

      Up

      The Enemy

        My youth has been nothing but a tenebrous storm,
        Pierced now and then by rays of brilliant sunshine;
        Thunder and rain have wrought so much havoc
        That very few ripe fruits remain in my garden.

        I have already reached the autumn of the mind,
        And I must set to work with the spade and the rake
        To gather back the inundated soil
        In which the rain digs holes as big as graves.

        And who knows whether the new flowers I dream of
        Will find in this earth washed bare like the strand,
        The mystic aliment that would give them vigor?

        Alas! Alas! Time eats away our lives,
        And the hidden Enemy who gnaws at our hearts
        Grows by drawing strength from the blood we lose!

      Up

      The Flawed Bell

        It is bitter and sweet on winter nights
        To listen by the fire that smokes and palpitates,
        To distant souvenirs that rise up slowly
        At the sound of the chimes that sing in the fog.

        Happy is the bell which in spite of age
        Is vigilant and healthy, and with lusty throat
        Faithfully sounds its religious call,
        Like an old soldier watching from his tent!

        I, my soul is flawed, and when, a prey to ennui,
        She wishes to fill the cold night air with her songs,
        It often happens that her weakened voice

        Resembles the death rattle of a wounded man,
        Forgotten beneath a heap of dead, by a lake of blood,
        Who dies without moving, striving desperately.

      Up

      The Irremediable

        Beyond Redemption

        I

        An Idea, a Form, a Being
        Which left the azure sky and fell
        Into a leaden, miry Styx
        That no eye in Heaven can pierce;

        An Angel, imprudent voyager
        Tempted by love of the deformed,
        In the depths of a vast nightmare
        Flailing his arms like a swimmer,

        And struggling, mortal agony!
        Against a gigantic whirlpool
        That sings constantly like madmen
        And pirouettes in the darkness;

        An unfortunate, enchanted,
        Outstretched hands groping futilely,
        Looking for the light and the key,
        To flee a place filled with reptiles;

        A damned soul descending endless stairs
        Without banisters, without light,
        On the edge of a gulf of which
        The odor reveals the humid depth,

        Where slimy monsters are watching,
        Whose eyes, wide and phosphorescent,
        Make the darkness darker still
        And make visible naught but themselves;

        A ship caught in the polar sea
        As though in a snare of crystal,
        Seeking the fatal strait through which
        It came into that prison;

        — Patent symbols, perfect picture
        Of an irremediable fate
        Which makes one think that the Devil
        Always does well whatever he does!


        II

        Somber and limpid tête-à-tête —
        A heart become its own mirror!
        Well of Truth, clear and black,
        Where a pale star flickers,

        A hellish, ironic beacon,
        Torch of satanical blessings,
        Sole glory and only solace
        — The consciousness of doing evil.

      Up

      The Joyous Dead

        In a fat, greasy soil, that's full of snails,
        I'll dig a grave deep down, where I may sleep
        Spreading my bones at ease, to drowse in deep
        Oblivion, as a shark within the wave.

        I hate all tombs, and testaments, and wills:
        I want no human tears; I'd like it more,
        That ravens could attack me with their bills,
        To broach my carcase of its living gore.

        O worms! black friends, who cannot hear or see,
        A free and joyous corpse behold in me!
        You philosophic souls, corruption-bred,

        Plough through my ruins! eat your merry way!
        And if there are yet further torments, say,
        For this old soulless corpse among the dead.

      Up

      The Living Torch

        Those lit eyes go before me, in full view,
        (Some cunning angel magnetised their light) —
        Heavenly twins, yet my own brothers too,
        Shaking their diamond blaze into my sight.

        My steps from every trap or sin to save,
        In the strait road of Beauty they conduct me.
        They are my servants, and I am their slave,
        Obedient in whatever they instruct me.

        Delightful eyes, you burn with mystic rays
        Like candles in broad day; red suns may blaze,
        But cannot quench their still, fantastic light.

        Those candles burn for death, but you for waking:
        You sing the dawn that in my soul is breaking,
        Stars which no sun could ever put to flight!

      Up

      The Mask

        (Allegorical Statue in the Style of the Renaissance).

        Let us gaze at this gem of Florentine beauty;
        In the undulation of this brawny body
        Those divine sisters, Gracefulness and Strength, abound.
        This woman, a truly miraculous marble,
        Adorably slender, divinely robust,
        Is made to be enthroned upon sumptuous beds
        And to charm the leisure of a Pope or a Prince.

        — And see that smile, voluptuous and delicate,
        Where self-conceit displays its ecstasy;
        That sly, lingering look, mocking and languorous;
        That dainty face, framed in a veil of gauze,
        Whose every feature says, with a triumphant air:
        'Pleasure calls me and Love gives me a crown!'
        To that being endowed with so much majesty
        See what exciting charm is lent by prettiness!
        Let us draw near, and walk around its loveliness.

        O blasphemy of art! Fatal surprise!
        That exquisite body, that promise of delight,
        At the top turns into a two-headed monster!

        Why no! it's but a mask, a lying ornament,
        That visage enlivened by a dainty grimace,
        And look, here is, atrociously shriveled,
        The real, true head, the sincere countenance
        Reversed and hidden by the lying face.
        Poor glamorous beauty! the magnificent stream
        Of your tears flows into my anguished heart;
        Your falsehood makes me drunk and my soul slakes its thirst
        At the flood from your eyes, which Suffering causes!

        — But why is she weeping? She, the perfect beauty,
        Who could put at her feet the conquered human race,
        What secret malady gnaws at those sturdy flanks?

        — She is weeping, fool, because she has lived!
        And because she lives! But what she deplores
        Most, what makes her shudder down to her knees,
        Is that tomorrow, alas! she will still have to live!
        Tomorrow, after tomorrow, always! — like us!

      Up


      The Punishment Of Pride

        When first Theology in her young prime
        Flourished with vigour, in that wondrous time,
        Of an illustrious Doctor it was said
        That, having forced indifferent hearts to shed
        Tears of emotion, moved to depths profound:
        And having to celestial glory found
        Marvellous paths, to his own self unknown,
        Where only purest souls had fared alone —
        Like a man raised too high, as in a panic,
        Crazed with a vertigo of pride satanic,
        He cried 'Poor Christ, I've raised you to renown!
        But had I wished to bring you crashing down
        Probing your flaws, your shame would match your pride
        And you'd be but a foetus to deride!'

        Immediately he felt his wits escape,
        That flash of sunlight veiled itself in crepe.
        All chaos through his intellect was rolled,
        A temple once, containing hoards of gold,
        By opulence and order well controlled,
        And topped with ceilings splendid to behold.
        Silence and night installed their reign in him.
        It seemed he was a cellar dank and dim,
        To which no living man could find the key;
        And from that day a very beast was he.
        And while he wandered senseless on his way,
        Not knowing spring from summer, night from day,
        Foul, dirty, useless, and with no hereafter,
        He served the children as a butt for laughter.

      Up

      Those Lit Eyes Go Before Me, In Full View

        Those lit eyes go before me, in full view,
        (Some cunning angel magnetised their light)
        Heavenly twins, yet my own brothers too,
        Shaking their diamond blaze into my sight.

        My steps from every trap or sin to save,
        In the strait road of Beauty they conduct me,
        They are my servants, and I am their slave,
        Obedient in whatever they instruct me.

        Delightful eyes, you burn with mystic rays
        Like candles in broad day; red suns may blaze,
        But cannot quench their still, fantastic light.

        Those candles burn for death, but you for waking:
        You sing the dawn that in my soul is breaking,
        Stars which no sun could ever put to flight!.

      Up

      Thou Who Abruptly As A Knife

        Thou who abruptly as a knife
        Didst come into my heart; thou who,
        A demon horde into my life,
        Didst enter, wildly dancing, through
        The doorways of my sense unlatched
        To make my spirit thy domain
        Harlot to whom I am attached
        As convicts to the ball and chain,
        As gamblers to the wheel's bright spell,
        As drunkards to their raging thirst,
        As corpses to their worms accurst
        Be thou! Oh, be thou damned to hell!.

        I have entreated the swift sword
        To strike, that I at once be freed;
        The poisoned phial I have implored
        To plot with me a ruthless deed.
        Alas! the phial and the blade
        Do cry aloud and laugh at me:
        "Thou art not worthy of our aid;
        Thou art not worthy to be free.
        Though one of us should be the tool
        To save thee from thy wretched fate,
        Thy kisses would resuscitate
        The body of thy vampire, fool!.

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      To The So Dear, To The So Beautiful

        To the so dear, to the so beautiful,
        who fills my heart with clarity,
        to the angel, to the immortal idol,
        All hail, in immortality!.

        She flows through my reality,
        air, mixed with the salt seaswell:
        into my soul’s ecstasy,
        pours the essence of the eternal;

        Everfresh sachet, that scents
        the dear corner’s atmospheric light,
        hidden smoke, of the burning censer,
        in the secret paths of night.

        How, incorruptible love,
        to express your endless verities?
        Grain of musk, unseen, above,
        in the depths of my infinities!.

        To the so dear, to the so beautiful,
        who is my joy and sanity,
        to the angel, to the immortal idol,
        All hail in immortality!

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      You Sad And Restless

        Tell me, does your heart sometimes soar, Agathe,
        far from the dark sea of the sordid city,
        towards another sea, a blaze of splendour that
        is blue, bright, deep as virginity?
        Tell me, does your heart sometimes soar, Agathe?.

        The sea, the vast sea, consoles us for our efforts!
        What demon entrusted the sea, that hoarse singer
        that accompanies the immense roar of tempests,
        with being the sublime sleepbringer?
        The sea, the vast sea, consoles us for our efforts!.

        Carry me wagons! Take me, frigate!
        Far, far! Here the city slime is made of our weeping!
        Is it true that your sad heart, Agathe,
        cries: ‘Far from remorse, from crime, from suffering,
        carry me wagons, take me frigate!.

        How far perfumed paradise, you are removed
        from us, where the clear blue is all love and happiness,
        where what one loves is worthy of being loved,
        where the heart drowns in pure voluptuousness!
        How far, perfumed paradise, you are removed!.

        But the green paradise of childhood’s thrill,
        the games, the songs, the kisses, and the flowers,
        the violin making music behind the hill,
        and the wine glass, under the trees, in twilight hours,
        But the green paradise of childhood’s thrill,

        the innocent paradise full of secret yearning,
        is it already further than India or China?
        Can we call it back, with cries of longing,
        and recreate it, with its voice of silver,
        the innocent paradise full of secret yearning?.

      Up

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